JIS News

KINGSTON — Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, says the Government remains committed to protecting the rights of Jamaican citizens, as is evidenced by the recent passage of the Charter of Fundamental Rights Bill, in both Houses of Parliament.

“The recent passage of the amendment to the Constitution to establish the Charter of Fundamental Rights after more than 17 years of deliberations is a clear statement of purpose of both the Government and Opposition that the most sacred duty of any state is to secure the rights of its citizens,” he said.

The Governor-General was delivering the Throne Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on April 14, marking the start of the new financial year which began on April 1.

He said that now that the legislation has been passed, “we must live up to its obligations."

The Governor-General further pointed to other pieces of legislation, which speaks to the Government’s commitment to defending the rights of the country’s citizens, such as the Independent Commission of Investigations, which provides protection from abuse by law enforcement agents; and the Protected Disclosures Act, designed to protect and embolden citizens to become sentries against wrongdoing.

The Governor-General further expressed that hope that legislation to establish the Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption will be approved early in the new legislative session.

“(This) is a critical tool to eliminate corruption, which undermines the stability of our society and the institutions through which it is governed,” he said.

In the meantime, the Governor-General said work on the first phase of Justice Square in downtown Kingston will begin shortly with the construction of seven new court rooms, judges’ chambers and associated facilities.

Turning to the refurbishing of the Metcalfe Street Juvenile Remand Centre, the Governor-General informed that the required additional correctional officers have been recruited and are undergoing training.

He said the Government regrets that children, who have run afoul of the law are still being held in police lockups, adding that as soon as the training has been completed and it is possible for staff to be put in place, “all children currently being held in police lockups will be transferred to the Metcalfe Street facility to be kept in more appropriate custody."

 

By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter